Mississippi AG Jim Hood Still Actively Supporting Steven Hayne

Yesterday, I reported that the Mississippi State Senate had unanimously passed a bill that would require anyone hired to do an autopsy by one of the state's counties be certified in forensic pathology by the American Board of Pathology. The bill was a reaction to the news that several Mississippi counties were attempting to resurrect an old state law to bring back controversial medical examiner Steven Hayne, who isn't board certified.

The bill now heads to the Mississippi House, where it look like it may face some opposition. After the bill passed the Senate, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, who frequently used Hayne during his time as a district attorney, sent the following email to the state's representatives:

Dear Friends,

Please be advised House Bill 1456 amends Section 41-61-65 and allows the Department of Public Safety to appoint a Pathologist which must be qualified to perform post-mortem examinations.  Further, this bill requires the Pathologist be an M.D. or D.O. who is certified in Forensic Pathology by the American Board of Pathology.  This is an Innocence Project bill which threatens cases which involved Dr. Hayne. This bill has passed the Senate and is headed to the House of Representatives.  Please contact your House Member and encourage him or her to defeat this bill. Our office is working diligently to stop this potentially harmful legislation.


Jim

Jim Hood
Mississippi Attorney General

As I reported last summer, it was Hood's office that issued an opinion allowing Mississippi coroners to resurrect an old law that would allow them to circumvent the Mississippi Department of Public Safety's termination of Hayne in 2008.

Hood's email is striking for a couple of reasons. First, it's a pretty straightforward and unapologetic defense of Hayne, and an indication that so long as Hood is in office, there will be no serious review of old cases to find other potentially innocent people convicted by Hayne's testimony.

Second, certification in a medical specialty by the American Board is standard throughout the medical profession. It displays a basic level of competency. Most hospitals won't hire a doctor who hasn't been certified by the American Board. It's a pretty minimal requirement to ask of the doctors whose testimony will be used in criminal proceedings. In fact, under Mississippi law the state medical examiner is already required to be certified by the American Board. Since 1995, Hayne, the coroners, and the Mississippi legislature have gotten around the law by simply not hiring a state medical examiner. With no official state medical examiner, Hayne was then allowed to handle so many autopsies on a contractual basis that he effectively held the position in every way but having it printed on his business cards.

Third, Hood is fighting his state's Department of Public Safety and State Senate to bring back a doctor whose testimony has already led to the murder convictions of two innocent men, whose laughable testimony was thrown out of court (PDF) in a third murder case, and who has been roundly condemned by nearly every other medical examiner outside the state of Mississippi who is familiar with his work. (I've talked to at least 13.)

Finally, Hood's email is factually inaccurate. The bill would not address prior cases involving Hayne, as Hood implies by using the past tense of the word "involve." It merely prevents Hayne from doing any autopsies in the future. Either Hood hasn't actually read the bill, or he's trying to drum up opposition by deliberately exaggerating its scope, implying that it would reopen thousands of old cases. Mississippi really should look at all of those cases, but that isn't what this bill does.

Hood not only has a complete and utter lack of shame about the damage Hayne has already done to Mississippi's criminal justice system, he now seems determined to make sure Hayne can continue to do more.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Xeones||

    NOW can we kick Mississippi out of the Union?

  • Jim Hood||

    Look, we never arrest or accuse an innocent man, and Dr. Hayne knows this. Now all y'all liburul agitators get the hell on back to New York City and leave us decent folks alone a'fore we set the dawgs on y'all.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Maybe Hood isn't the massive dickhead he appears. Maybe he just watched last night's Stossel.

  • Discord||

    LOL! Win!

  • ||

    So, Jim Hood is a Democrat and Attorney General. I assume he's got plans to run for governor at some point, like all Attorneys General do. Hopefully the scumbag won't win.

  • ||

    And that's why he's trying to keep Hayne propped up -- if the Hayne scandal boils over Hood will never get elected Gov, even in Mississippi.

  • ||

    At least it's getting some coverage in Mississippi from non-Radley Balko sources.

  • ||

    Hopefully the State Public Safety Commissioner Stephen B. Simpson, appointed by Gov. Barbour, who supports this bill, will challenge Hood for AG spot in 2011. There has been talk.

  • ||

    State Public Safety Commissioner Stephen B. Simpson, considered a possible challenger of Hood for AG in 2011, took over DPS in 2008.

    Simpson said he chose not to retain Hayne for autopsies because he lacked ABP certification. He said he hopes to hire a certified medical examiner, but that he has been satisfied with the work the private firm is doing.

    Simpson said he was "dumbfounded" by Hood's comments against the pending legislation, and called ABP certification the "gold standard."
  • ||

    ""This is an Innocence Project bill which threatens cases which involved Dr. Hayne.""

    Innocence is bad!

  • ||

    I was going to post the same thing. Is the IP hated by most Mississippians or something? Does mentioning them by name raise red flags to House members?

  • Radley Balko||

    Is the IP hated by most Mississippians or something?

    Hayne's defenders have deflected the IP's criticism by trying to paint them them as fringe death penalty opponents.

  • ||

    The Innocence Project does oppose the death penalty, does it not?

  • Radley Balko||

    Yes. What's your point?

    It's an ad honimem argument that does nothing to address the IP's substantive criticisms of Hayne.

  • ||

    ""How can a bill be any less controversial? It is just asking that people be licensed.""

    Talk to John Stossel. He wouldn't want Mississippi to interfere with Hayne freedom to work.

  • ||

    We had enough misunderstanding of the difference between arranging flowers and putting people on death row yesterday, thank you.

  • robc||

    Actually, I think the important difference is between private and public practice.

  • ||

    Right. There's a difference in the government saying "These are minimum requirements for people we'll hire," which can be excessive but aren't prima facie wrong, and the government saying "You two consenting parties aren't allowed to start a business relationship."

  • ||

    So you don't support any licensing requirements for private-sector, say, neurosurgeons. We can just depend on the market to sort out that Dr. Scramblebrains is a bit subpar (at the cost of a few people's cerebra).

  • ||

    So you don't support any licensing requirements for private-sector, say, neurosurgeons. We can just depend on the market to sort out that Dr. Scramblebrains is a bit subpar (at the cost of a few people's cerebra.

    Would you go to see an uncertified and licensed neurosurgeon? Would your insurance pay for it? Would you pay for insurance that would pay for people to see uncertified neurosurgeons?

    Underwriters Laboratories has and continues to do a good job.

  • ||

    The state shouldn't require a license to drive either.

  • ||

    You are using public roads in that case, but are you seriously arguing that driver's ed and the tests actually make people better drivers, instead of just age and experience?

    And are you suggesting that rogue neurosurgeons would go around operating on people without their consent? Driving you're at least sharing a public road with someone that you didn't specifically choose.

  • ||

    ""but are you seriously arguing that driver's ed and the tests actually make people better drivers, instead of just age and experience?""

    Being I didn't mention either, NO.

    ""You are using public roads in that case,""

    So If I'm a doctor at a public hospital, I can be required to have a state license?

  • robc||

    So If I'm a doctor at a public hospital, I can be required to have a state license?

    If by "public" you mean "owned by the state" then yes.

  • ||

    Surgeons operate on people all the time without their consent in ERs. If I'm knocked unconscious by a falling turkey that some nut dropped out of an airplane for thanksgiving, I would like to know that I'm not going to St. God's Memorial Hospital under the knife of Scramblebrains.

  • Nessman||

    "as God is my witness..." etc

  • ||

    Why would a hospital hire someone who can't do their job? Do you think private hospitals just hire people off the street? We don't need the government to enforce what is already the only logical choice. I wonder how fast a hospital would go out of business if their neurosurgeon was incurring multiple and frequent malpractice lawsuits.

  • your calling card,sir||

    politics, nepotism....

  • ||

    Also, I have a feeling that insurance companies might require something.

  • ||

    ""Also, I have a feeling that insurance companies might require something.""

    I agree. One insurance may demand a cert from X, another insurance may demand a cert from Y, another from Z. Considering a doctor would take more than one insurance, he may have to spend time and money getting multiple certs just to do business.

  • ||

    I agree. One insurance may demand a cert from X, another insurance may demand a cert from Y, another from Z. Considering a doctor would take more than one insurance, he may have to spend time and money getting multiple certs just to do business.

    Ah, we see that you're concerned about the doctors' financial health, not the patients. Easy to see why you would favor the cartels, then.

    In any case, they may, or may not. Some doctors accept some insurance currently, but not others. Other doctors accept payment in cash, so that they could get outside the system-- something that would be even easier.

    I didn't realize that TrickyVic was a single-payer health care supporter.

  • ||

    ""Ah, we see that you're concerned about the doctors' financial health, not the patients. Easy to see why you would favor the cartels, then.""

    Yeah, the guy that's proposed ending insurance so we could have real market rate medical costs is against the market.

    Insurances themselves are little cartels that hope you don't need to use the services you paid for, so they can spend it on others that did. If you want real market rate health care, remove the mechanism that allows doctors to charge more than what most people can pay.

  • ||

    TrickyVic, I see that you don't believe in the market at all. How could something like UL have possibly worked? How could the market possibly produce a pencil?

    All the things you claim are possible, but onerous requirements would be selected against. People would be able to decide whether they wanted to pay the extra that came with the certification or not.

    You're making the same arguments in favor of monopoly that monopolists, statists, and regulated utilities always make, and they're just as false.

  • ||

    First, you are so wrong about me it's unreal. I enjoy taking either side of a debate to question other peoples opinions.

    I'm not opposed to privatized licensing schemes. Certs are good. I think the whole licensing thing is getting out of hand.

  • ||

    We can just depend on the market to sort out that Dr. Scramblebrains is a bit subpar (at the cost of a few people's cerebra).

    How many people have to die because your licensing requirements make medical care more expensive by propping up cartels? I'm fairly confident that your licensing requirements kill more people than they save, particularly since, yes, people would still require that private certification and licensing that works be required.

    Public certification that's worth it would survive in a free market. Legal mandates, however, do provide plenty of room for corruption and inefficiency.

    Did the stock rating services like Moody's get better once they became legally recognized as official National Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations in 1975? Or did that make things worse?

  • ||

    ""I'm fairly confident that your licensing requirements kill more people than they save,""

    Got anything to back that up?

    "" Legal mandates, however, do provide plenty of room for corruption and inefficiency.""

    Absence of legal mandates leave just as much room for the same.

  • ||

    Got anything to back that up?

    I do for the FDA.

  • ||

    I didn't think the FDA issued medical licenses.

  • robc||

    I didn't think the FDA issued medical licenses.

    You really that obtuse? Its a general point. And a fairly closely related one.

  • ||

    Since the subject was licenses for providers, I didn't think I was.

    But ok. Nothing in the link supports the notion that "licensing requirements kill more people than they save."

    I do agree with the link that FDA delays can cause death. But that doesn't prove the FDA kills more people than they save.

  • ||

    Absence of legal mandates leave just as much room for the same.

    Were Moody's, S&P, and Fitch more or less reliable before they became anointed as the only certified and recognized rating organizations?

  • ||

    I have no idea.

    But corruption and inefficiency happens in both licensed and non-licensed, public and private professions, which was my point.

    But your not against licenses, just government issued ones. I get that.

  • ||

    "We can just depend on the market to sort out that Dr. Scramblebrains is a bit subpar (at the cost of a few people's cerebra)."

    Yes we can, why would a hospital incur the risk of a non-licensed surgeon in the first place? You assume that a hospital would just hire someone off the street, see how they work, and if they kill a few too many people they get kicked out. That is not how the market would work.

  • your calling card, sir||

    Your calling card, sir|3.12.10 @ 7:25PM|#
    Heller grad student, future biologist, and expert on women

    reply to this
    Adding market expert

  • ||

    Expert on women? Where'd you get that one from? Also, who the fuck are you and why are you compiling information about me?

  • your calling card, sir||

    Heller, some days you're no fun to play with. Take your balls and go home, baby.

  • ||

    Jim Hood just doesn't give a damn if witnesses that support the prosector's version of events is woefully incompetent or a lying piece of shit.

    Many prosecutors, not just Mississippi ones, share that viewpoint.

  • ||

    you got that right !

  • ||

    Comment is cross-posted from Radley's personal blog:

    “certification in a medical specialty by the American Board is standard throughout the medical profession.”

    Just to be clear, this is true, however, the relevant specialty here is “pathology” and not necessarily “forensic pathology”, which is a sub-specialty certification offered by the ABP (American Board of Pathology). It is possible for someone to be certified by the ABP in anatomic pathology, not further certified in forensic pathology, and yet still competently practice forensic pathology. For instance, I am currently seeking certification in hematopathology, yet this is not required for me to practice hematopathology (just desired by potential employers). Indeed, I would venture to say that a significant amount of, if not a majority of, hematopathology cases are signed out by pathologist without sub-specialty certification. And this is not a scandal.

    Now, forensic pathology may be a little different, in that most forensic pathology is handled by state MEs, which to a much larger extent will be sub-specialty certified. But certainly not all (at least, some may be practicing while still pursuing final certification), and I would like to know whether Hayne has any certification at all from the ABP (in anatomic or clinical pathology) before I passed judgment here.

    Of course, this is not meant as a defense in any way of Hayne or his actions. That guy has got to go just for seeming incompetence, regardless of what any board says. I just want to state that it may not be quite analogous to a non-licensed doctor or pilot, as some may have described.

    So, Radley, can you tell us if Hayne has any certificate from the ABP at all?

  • Pandora||

    Trent,

    It has been proven time and time again that if you have not attended a forensic pathology fellowship or you cannot pass the forensic pathology examination that you are not competent to practice forensic pathology. It is true that you might be able to handle some of the simple cases, but you would lack the knowledge and experience to practice competently.

    By your argument a general surgeon could perform heart surgery, since cardiovascular surgery is a subspecialty of general surgery. Would you prefer the surgeon who took the time and effort to attend a fellowship and pass their boards? Or would you prefer the surgeon who did the minimum surgery residency?

    There is also a difference between a newly graduated fellow waiting to take his/her board exam and someone who failed it 20 years ago and has taken no training in forensics and has not attended any significant forensic CME since that time.

  • ||

    Is anyone actually surprised by this? I mean really.

    JT
    www.isp-snooping.es.tc

  • ||

    How can a bill be any less controversial? It is just asking that people be licensed.

    Actually, its not. Its asking that the be certified. By a private organization. Something libertarians should have no beef with.

  • ||

    "" Its asking that the be certified. By a private organization. Something libertarians should have no beef with.""

    Then if the state decides it doesn't about a cert from a private organization, it shouldn't have to.

  • ||

    Sure, the state doesn't have to. But that's a policy issue; obviously some requirements that the state could put on its own employees and contractors might be silly or absurd.

    However, that's still quite a bit different, legally and morally, from the state setting requirements on whether two private people can enter into a business relationship.

    Here, Steven Hayne was a contract employee of the state.

  • ||

    ""Here, Steven Hayne was a contract employee of the state.""

    So if the state wants to use him, the state should?

  • ||

    So, Radley, can you tell us if Hayne has any certificate from the ABP at all?

    My recollection is that he has some kind of certification by a fly-by-night organization, but not the American Board of Pathology.

    Just for funzies, here's a link you can use to rate Dr. Haynes. Apparently, no one has yet.

    http://www.healthgrades.com/di.....d-47832cf0

  • ||

    Maybe he pays to advertise at healthgrade.com in exchange for them removing negative ratings.

  • Yelp Zombie Reviewer||

    DOCTOR HAYNE WAS VERY RUDE, PUSHED REPLICA TEETH INTO MY SKIN TO MAKE POST-MORTEM BITE MARK. WILL BE LOOKING FOR OTHER CORONER FOR MY NEXT AUTOPSY. WOULDN'T BE CAUGHT DEAD PATRONIZING HIM AGAIN.

  • #||

    fucking lol

  • ||

    I HAVE NEVER MADE A REVIEW FOR DOCTOR HAYNE BEFORE. THIS IS MY FIRST ONE SERIOUSLY. I JUST RECENTLY MET HIM AT A GROCERY STORE AND HE EXPOSED HIMSELF AND TRIED TO RAPE ME. SO RUDE! I AM NEVER USING HIM AS A CORONER AGAIN UNLESS HE HAPPENS TO PAY YELP LOTS OF MONEY BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE A NICE THING TO DO AND WOULD MEAN THAT HE IS AN AWESOME CORONER.

  • ||

    Jim Hood does NOT carE what he does to innocent people..HELL LOOK WHAT HE DID WITH HIS BOTCHED UP HOME REPAIR FRAUD "OPERATION HAMMERSTRIKE" HIS OFFICE ARRESTED ALOT OF INNOCENT PEOPLE AND CHARGED THEM CRIMINALLY WHEN IN FACT IT WAS A CIVIL MATTER !! JIM HOOD WOULD PROSECUTE HIS DADDY IF HE THOUGHT HE COULD GET ON TV..I HOPE HE RUNS FOR GOVERNOR ...THERE WILL BE ALOT OF INNOCENT PEOPLE (HE PUT OUT OF WORK )IN THOSE COMMERCIALS. HIS "OPERATION HAMMERSTRIKE" IS GOING TO COST TAX PAYERS ALOT OF MONEY,BECAUSE HIS OFFICE IS FIXING TO BE FLOODED WITH LAWSUITS FROM HIS OFFICE ARRESTING & PROSECUTING PEOPLE ON A CHARGE THAT IS A CIVIL MATTER !! WAY TO GO JIMMY...

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement